Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The savored Word...

Somehow, I missed that Michael Card wrote another album on Scripture.  In 2011,  he released "Luke: A World Turned Upside Down."  Even though I still do not know how to use the Amazon Prime music any place other than its website, I did get to listen to the entire album using the new music streaming service Amazon added to Prime membership.  It is different, in my opinion, than his trilogies on the Old Testament and on the New Testament.  But I enjoyed listening to him work his way through one of the Gospel books.

I admit that I very much wanted "Simeon's Song" to be different from what it was because of how very much I savor the Nunc Dimittis.  I think I shall have to work to separate out those feelings in order to properly listen to the song.

That old man in the temple
Waiting in the court
Waiting for the answer to a promise
And all at once he sees them
In the morning sunshine
A couple come and carry in a baby

Now that I've held Him in my arms
My life can come to an end
Let Your servant now depart in peace
'Cause I've seen Your salvation
He's the Light of the Gentiles
And the glory of His people, Israel

Mary and the baby come
And in her hand five shekels
The price to redeem her baby boy
The baby softly cooing
Nestled in her arms
Simeon takes the boy and starts to sing

Now that I've held Him in my arms
My life can come to an end
Let Your servant now depart in peace
'Cause I've seen Your salvation
He's the Light of the Gentiles
And the glory of His people, Israel

Now's the time to take Him in your arms
Your life will never come to an end
He's the only way that you'll find peace
He'll give you salvation
'Cause he's the Light of the Gentiles
And the glory of His people, Israel

I think a small rewrite to the final stanza would help better present the true doctrine:

That baby grown now takes you in His arms
Your life will never come to an end
His baptism brings the only peace you'll find
His death gives you salvation
'Cause he's the Light of the Gentiles
And the glory of His people, Israel

[Of course, I'm not a song writer, so be merciful in my edits.]

One of the songs is not specifically from a passage from Luke, but it is an example of how Michael Card so often points to Christ, The Way, The Truth, and the Life.


I am lost and I am bound
And I am captive to the shame
That keeps on holding me down
And all I need to be found
Is freedom

I am tired and I am dying
And I am trapped inside the cage
I’ve made of hopelessly trying
But the door would open and I’d be flying
If I could find freedom

Freedom, freedom
All the burdens we have borne
All the losses that we mourn
Cry out for freedom, freedom

Prison walls, and bolted doors
Something keeps on telling me
That I was made for more
But there is Someone who can restore
My freedom

A gentle voice I can't evade
Speaks in the darkness of the heart
And whispers, "Do not be afraid
You can be free, the price was paid
For your freedom"

Freedom, freedom
From the darkest of the night
From desolation to delight
Freedom, freedom

The chains are broken, the door is open
He is your Freedom

But back to those specifically from Luke.  One song, "A Breath of a Prayer," is the Lord's Prayer melded with the Kyrie.  Interesting ... really, really, really interesting to cry out for mercy as you pray the Lord's Prayer.  

For the Magnificat, "What Sort of Song?" Michael Card wrote a duet, where Maggie Card sings the actual words of Mary's song, whilst he sings about the Magnificat.  I think, maybe, hearing this helped me to understand and appreciate the Magnificat more than I ever have in the Divine Service settings.  

[Wow!  Was that difficult to admit!]

Another song addresses the Last Supper, "How Much More a Servant Could He Be?" It begins:  "On this their final night/ they bicker and they fight/still they are slaves to men/but not yet slaves to Christ."  Again, interesting.  Throughout the song, I do like the emphasis on what the Lord's Supper is, but the chorus is "The arguments just melt away/and there was nothing more than they could say/a wordless lesson that would set them free/Tell me how much more a servant could He be?"  So, I think the song misses the point of the Lord's Supper because it is most certainly not wordless.  The Lord's Supper is The Word and is filled with the Word.  However, "He is the wine and bread/too much to comprehend" is a great line, though!

Michael Card also has a song set between the crucifixion and the resurrection, "The Pain and the Persistence of Doubt."  I think would best be presented if I typed up all the lyrics, but that is more work than I have in me tonight (not all the song lyrics are online).  To me, the song is both a balm and a condemnation.   I hear the works righteousness call to do that which I am hoping is really the work of Christ.  By this, I mean it ends with the question "Why can you not let go of the pain and the persistence of doubt?"  Would that it were I could do this myself!  I cannot!!

But, then again, could this question be the same sort of self-refelctive question of Psalm 42 where the psalmist asks his own soul why it is in despair.  I don't know.  What I do know is that I oft hear Law more keenly than others.  

Overall, to me, this song was more a plea to "let go and let God" than a crooning lullaby of the sweet, sweet Gospel that is Christ crucified for you that the Holy Spirit will work in you rather than you work it.  If that makes sense....

What I discovered in reading about the album to which I have been listening to even as I write this, I discovered that Michael Card set out to write a set of commentaries on the Gospels, using the original Hebrew and Greek, based on his stance about the importance of imagination.  I've read several explanations of his stance that left me wary, but this one by Michael Card himself is a bit less ... concerning:

“On one side are those who study Scripture with their minds. They engage intellectually, puzzling over the text as if it were only a cipher to be solved. They tend to gravitate toward theology. They revel in being “right.” On the other side are those who engage the Bible predominantly with the heart. They lean toward the emotional, even mystical understanding of the Scripture. Rather than theological, I would describe them as devotional in their approach. Neither approach is wrong, but both are incomplete. God has given us hearts with which to feel and minds for reasoning. He longs to recapture them both with the truth of the Word.”

What sort of cracked me up was one person's review of the Luke Commentary:

Although Card is operating from a more orthodox theological perspective than I would use as a progressive Christian, I was nevertheless struck throughout that he had done his homework. Namely, almost every chapter shows evidence of studying the original languages of Greek and Hebrew and includes multiple connections between how various parts of Luke’s Gospel interrelate. Despite the strengths of these insights, I was actually surprised to find that the high percentage of scholarly commentary in the book leaves almost no room for what I would call more “imaginative” or “creative” encounters with scripture — at least as defined in the Ignatian spiritual tradition in which I was trained.

Mostly, after reading the review, I was left with the complaint that the commentary was not "experiential" enough ... did not leave room for an individual to insert his/her personal encounter with Christ.  Good!,  I say to that.

I find Michael Card's commentary titles ... interesting:

  • Matthew:  The Gospel of Identity
  • Mark:  The Gospel of Passion
  • Luke:  The Gospel of Amazement
  • John:  The Gospel of Wisdom

Being all confused and doubtful about faith, I am very much not wanting to read anything but the pure doctrine that is in the Book of Concord (BOC).  However, I also would like to read these, to read what the song writer who has such a love affair with the Word of God has to say.  If nothing else, Michael Card is that:  another who deeply savors and reveres the Word of God.  

Still.  Even now.  Even in this world of ours where even the Church, here and there, can be so very antagonistic toward that Word.

[Have I ever mentioned that when I saw him in concert back in college I would bring pen and paper to take notes because Michael Card talked as much about the Word of God as he sang??  Do you think there is any chance of talking Michael Card into writing a trilogy of albums on the Psalter???]

Money aside, I wonder, Is that okay?  Is it okay to want to read commentaries by one you know is most likely errant in doctrine??  

I peeked.  I admit it.  Just now, I went to Amazon.com and used the Look Inside feature to read some of the commentary on Mark.  Michael Card seems to be painting a picture of the world in which the Gospels were taking place, imagining what might have been, filling in thoughts and emotions, but remaining focused on both what Scripture actually says and that Scripture is always pointing toward Christ.  It was like someone had asked Michael Card to tell her the story of Mark and so he did.   Now I really want to read them.  SIGH.

Is it wrong to long for the fellowship of those who savor the Word, who hunger for it to be spoken and read and reveled in day after day after day ... not just Sundays??

In my "formative" Christian years, I was raised on The Practice of Godliness and The Pursuit of Holiness.  I no longer have those books, as they were among a vast store of bad theology books I purged after reading the BOC for the first time.  I mean, seriously, why even consider the practice of godliness since we are never going to be gods or going to be able to live like a god.  As for the pursuit of Holiness, how can you pursue something that is a gift from and a work of the Holy Spirit??  I mean, that book could have been written in a single short paragraph:  Get baptized.  Hear the Word of God.  Receive the Lord's Supper.  That way, the Holy Spirit can and will work to sanctify you and your life even as you remain a sinner in this fallen world because you are also a justified and redeemed saint.

Tell me, someone, oh please, the story of the Gospels.  Help me to know them again.  Make them accessible even to this forgetful (and fearful) mind.

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